Today’s blog is going to be a little more specific than those of late. We are going to look at the Liver and how the plant, Milk Thistle can support its function.
Why the Liver?
Well, as most of you know, the liver is the major organ of detoxification. Look at it like a big filter, filtering out all the toxins in your body. Given the modern, average diet, it’s no wonder it is probably the most overworked organ in our body.
Instead of loving our livers and taking care of them, we often abuse them by overloading our bodies with toxins such as alcohol, sugar, unhealthy fats, and salts, all of which impairs its ability to eliminate toxins from our bodies. The long-term effect of this is disease.
The major functions of our Liver
The key role is detoxification. Our liver clears the blood of toxic substances and drugs and nourishes our cells. Everything we eat and drink goes through the liver.
It helps with the production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion.
The liver regulates hormones by breaking down and removing these chemical messengers from the body when they are no longer needed. Hormonal imbalances like too much oestrogen can cause uterine fibroids, and hormonal cancers like breast and ovarian.
Our liver stores vitamins, minerals and glucose, specifically iron, vitamins A, K, B12, and folic acid, releasing them into the blood when needed.
The liver also plays an important role in the metabolism of proteins. Liver cells change amino acids in foods so that they can produce energy, or make carbohydrates or fats.
The liver works hand in hand with the digestive system, filtering the blood coming from the digestive system before it passes to the rest of the body.
If you are eating a healthy diet and your liver is absorbing all the correct nutrients, these processes are fairly straightforward.
However, if you have a poor diet and overload your body with toxins, it will not filter your blood properly, causing toxins to remain behind. Over time, this can lead to many problems.
You may experience poor circulation due to a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients being fed to your cells, resulting in tiredness and fatigue. A toxic body will eventually result in the onset of disease.
How can Milk Thistle help your liver?
Milk Thistle, also known as Sliybum Marinanum and St Mary’s Thistle, is a powerful aid in keeping your liver healthy. It comes in a variety of forms and is made by extracting the seeds from the milk thistle plant.
It has many health benefit, supporting your liver and gallbladder, whilst it also helps with skin health, regulating hormones and cleaning your blood.
How Milk Thistle supports the liver
Milk Thistle helps the liver in the following ways:
- It regenerates liver cells by stimulating the production of the proteins that are needed to make liver cells and increasing cell division. Milk Thistle can be very beneficial for those suffering from chronic hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease.
- Milk Thistle promotes the release of a powerful antioxidant called SOD (superoxide disputes), which is very effective in fighting the free radicals caused by too much alcohol in the liver.
- It increases bile production to improve digestion and the breakdown of fats. Bile production will encourage regular bowel movements.
- Milk Thistle protects your liver cell membranes, stopping toxins from entering the cells. Milk Thistle neutralises all toxic substances that break through cell walls.
- It detoxifies the liver from all harmful substances like alcohol, excessive caffeine, drugs, heavy metals, pollution and chemicals found in food, like pesticides on fruit and vegetables.
How to take Milk Thistle
You can take it as a herbal tea, tablets or liquid/tincture form. Tincture form is my favourite. You can find good tinctures at Revital health store on the king’s Road. For those of you outside London, ask in your local health shop for a good product.
Milk Thistle can be powerful, so if you have a compromised liver due to an illness, alcohol, or drugs, you want to start slowly. In this case, I would recommend seeking advice from a qualified nutritionist or naturopath. You may also want to inform your GP, especially if you are on medication as it can interact with certain medications.
This article wouldn’t be complete without a brief mention of foods which you can add into your diet to support liver function. So, besides the wonder plant Milk Thistle, it’s important to make sure you include some of the following into your diet:
- Green leafy vegetables including broccoli, Kale, collard greens, endive, chicory, rocket, and avocado.
- Brussel sprouts, asparagus, alfalfa sprouts.
- Oats and whole grains
- Beetroots are very good for the liver.
- Garlic, ginger, onions.
- Drink 2 litres of water a day
As always, a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg is always best. You can read my article on getting more fruit & vegetables into your diet here.
A note on coffee
In most of my articles I suggest cutting down on coffee and tea, but in this case I would support drinking coffee. However, I stress that a good fresh coffee, preferably organic, is the best option.
In multiple studies, coffee is found to lower the risk of cirrhosis, or permanent liver damage, in people with chronic liver disease.
For those who really want to avoid coffee, green tea is also superb for the liver.
The wonderful thing about the liver is that it is the only organ that can regenerate itself. So it is never to late to change your diet and lifestyle.
I hope you have found this blog informative. I would love to hear from you if you’re already using Milk Thistle or if you notice some positive changes from adding it to your diet. Please get in touch if you have questions.